Cascades Academy Independent School PK-12
Teaching Through Storyline Design
Teaching Through Storyline Design

One of the most important resources available to classroom teachers is the knowledge already contained in the minds of their students. Childrens' own ideas and prior experience provide the starting point for the topic. From there, they are actively involved in producing their own visual texts. The context created provides many opportunities for the children to use all their senses both in the exploration of their environment and in expressing their ideas about what they discover.

The class feels personally involved in the creation of the Storyline and as a result confidence grows in what they are learning. The "story" demonstrates a relevance to the child's reality which provides proof of the general usefulness of these skills and learned concepts. Further, due to the open-ended nature of the problem solving episodes, the class benefits from the opportunities to work at higher levels of thinking and development. The topic of study provides a vehicle which maintains a high level of interest while presenting frequent opportunities for effective skill practice.

This method of teaching is a process or structure that meaningfully integrates curriculum. Sound learning theory and effective teaching strategies have been synthesized into a truly engaging teaching model for both the educator and students; who have made the collaborative storymaking exciting and highly motivating. Together we created a visual text which is far more meaningful to them than any textbook. As a class, we watched the story unfold as their ideas appear in visual form around the walls of our classroom. The level of involvement and sense of ownership felt by students encourages them to take a greater responsibility for their own learning. Best of all, the whole process is fun and stimulating for everyone involved.

Isn't that what learning's all about?

-Ms. Hermes, 1st Grade Teacher



Creativity's a Beast in Kindergarten/1st Grade
Creativity's a Beast in Kindergarten/1st Grade

With Halloween approaching, I always like to work in an art lesson inspired by the seasonal fun, while incorporating important art skills and concepts. This year, I have focused much of the lower school on MONSTERS! I actually love projects that center around imaginary creatures because anything is possible. A monster can have one giant eye, three eyes coming out of the top of its head, antennae, horns, fur, spots, gnarly teeth, claws, wings...you catch my drift: monsters are diverse, creative, and a lot of fun to make! Beginning with a drawing game called "Roll-A-Monster," students get the creative juices flowing with this random activity where you roll a die to determine which features you add to your monster. Aside from the cute creations that ensue, this is a great opportunity for students to draw from observation--they have to look at the sheet and try to copy the best they can the shape of the body, the eyes, nose, mouth and teeth, and other features that are randomly selected with the roll of the die.

Our next monster-making activity involved many more materials and openness, as there's nothing more fun to kids than a room filled with all kinds of things to explore--pom-poms, pipe cleaners, fancy paper cutters, googly eyes and fur were all part of our "monster factory." Additionally, the concept of symmetry was discussed and incorporated as the bodies of the monsters, and students learned how to fold and cut out two of something--two ears, two horns, two legs--much easier to get the two-for-one deal by folding paper in half and cutting out one shape. It was super fun seeing the enthusiasm, the cute stories and funny explanations of what the monsters do, what their different features are used for, and their names and personalities. When it comes to kindergarten/first grade, any project that involves colorful, tactile materials, an engaging process, and an open-ended outcome while being silly and creative is a win. (And bonus--they get to bring home a new "friend!")

-Ms. Meadow, Art Teacher

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